Baptism - Infants

The Heidelberg Catechism
Question 74:

Should infants, too, be baptised?
Answer: Yes. Infants as well as adults are in God’s covenant and are His people. They, no less than adults, are promised the forgiveness of sin through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit who produces faith. Therefore, by baptism, the mark of the covenant, infants should be received into the Christian church and should be distinguished from the children of unbelievers. This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.


Baptism - Infants
Observations: The baptism of infants has been a controversial issue since the time of the Reformation. While the Reformed churches believed the practise is biblical, many Christians believe the New Testament teaches ‘believer’s baptism,’ and as a result they rejected infant baptism. The Reformed Church differed from the Roman Catholic belief regarding baptism in that the outward washing with water in itself did not wash away sins, that was only accomplished by the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit (Q&A 72). However, the Reformers believed that God’s covenant promises to his people in the Old Testament, which included their children through the rite of circumcision, continued in the New Testament through the rite of baptism. This is known as Covenantal Theology, the idea that God relates to us and our children in terms of a covenantal commitment with believers and their families. Paul talks about how ‘in Christ we were circumcised… having been buried with him in baptism... (Col 2:11-12)’ Paul links baptism and circumcision. Elsewhere, we’re told that whole families were baptized (Acts 16:15,33), and that God’s promise of salvation is for ‘you and your children. (Acts 2:39)’ Children were also included in the church (Eph 6:1; Col 3:20). Because of this the Reformed Church has emphasized God’s gracious promises made in baptism, as opposed to the individual’s choice to believe.

Application: How do you view God’s relationship, not just with you, but with your children? Do you believe that God has a special connection to your kids because of your faith in Jesus Christ? Do you believe that through you the Holy Spirit is at work in your kids? Do you believe that your children belong to God’s new covenant people, and ought to be baptized? Do you believe that the children of believers belong to the body, the Church? If you do then you have a responsibility to disciple your children, to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded (Mt 28:20).
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I believe that my children and the children of all believers are a part of Your new family, the Church, and as such they ought to be baptized, and that I ought to be discipling them and teaching them to fear and honour You. Lord, forgive me when I expect someone else to do that work, or when I fail to lovingly instruct them in Your ways. Lord, fill me with Your Spirit that I might be a godly example to them, and fill them with the Spirit that the seed You have planted in them will grow and be fruitful. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.


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